Newborn Cloth Diapering: A Guide for Beginners

By April Duffy •  Updated: 03/24/23 •  11 min read

Some use disposables in the hospital, others cloth from the first diaper. Some wait until they fit in one size, and others jump in with newborn cloth diapers.

If you’re considering cloth diapering for your newborn, I want to encourage you that you can do this from birth if you want to.

This comprehensive guide will help you understand the benefits, the different types of newborn cloth diapers available, and how to use them effectively. I’ll also share some personal experiences from testing various brands of cloth diapers on a family member’s baby, so you can make an informed decision. Let’s dive in!

Can You Use Cloth Diapers on a Newborn?

Yes, you can absolutely use cloth diapers on a newborn!

What’s not always possible is cloth diapering a baby with one-size (OS) cloth diapers, and for most babies newborn diapers are necessary for the first few months from birth until the baby bulks up enough to finally fit into OS diapers.

What’s The Difference Between Newborn And One-size Diapers?

One-size (OS) cloth diapers are designed to grow with your baby and last until potty training. While most OS diapers say they fit babies from about 8lbs on, most babies are born smaller than this and even those that are 8lbs or larger are usually born with a newborn’s signature twiggy-legs, which is hard to accommodate with most OS diapers.

Most newborn cloth diapers on the other hand are designed specifically for babies who weigh between 6 and 12 pounds. Their key feature is a smaller, more secure fit around the baby’s legs, which is essential for preventing leaks and blowouts.

For this reason, many parents who want to use cloth diapers on their child from day one opt to use newborn cloth diapers during the early months before transitioning to one-size diapers.

What about the Newborn Hack?

The newborn hack is a technique that some parents use to make one-size cloth diapers fit newborn babies better.

While this method can work for some, it may not be as effective in preventing leaks or blowouts as using properly fitting newborn cloth diapers. To learn how to do the newborn hack, watch this video from Jay’s Nest:

When Do You Start Cloth Diapering Newborns?

If you want to, and you have diapers that fit, babies can be cloth-diapered the minute they are born.

If you are wondering about cloth diapering a newborn in the hospital, click here for some tips and tricks.

What About Meconium?

Despite how awful it looks, meconium doesn’t stain or present any special wash concerns.

If you are really worried you can use a disposable liner, but in my experience liner is more trouble than it is worth for a newborn since it won’t stain your diapers, and is actually water-soluble meaning it doesn’t need to be rinsed off before popping it in the washer.

For more reassurance that meconium won’t ruin your diapers click here for my full article on the topic.

How Long is a Baby Able to Wear Newborn Cloth Diapers?

Every baby grows differently and at different weights, but if we want a solid ballpark answer to the question of how long newborn diapers will last, we can do some back of the napkin math using average baby sizes and growth rates.

The average baby weighs about 7.5 pounds at birth, according to And that baby will grow quickly in the first four months.

According to Ask Dr. Sears, a breast-fed baby will gain 4-7 oz a week during the first month, and an average of 1-2 lbs per month for the first six months.

That article also referenced a 1992 study, titled the DARLING study, which showed that breastfed and formula-fed infants grow at basically the same rate in the first few months (though formula-fed babies tended to gain weight faster between four and six months of age).

Using those numbers, which are an average starting weight of 7.5 lbs and an average weight gain of 1.5 lbs per month, we can estimate how long those newborn cloth diapers would last the average newborn.

Here’s a sampling of some popular newborn cloth diapers (and cloth diaper covers*) just from Amazon, with estimates for how long they would last you if you had a completely average baby:

BrandType/StyleWeight RangeApprox. Length of Wear*
ThirstiesDuo Wrap Diaper Cover (Snap Closure)
Have a look on Amazon
6-18 pounds7 months
Imagine Baby Products Newborn Diaper Cover (Snap Closure)
Have a look on Amazon
5-13 pounds3.6 months
RumparoozPreemie/Newborn Diaper Cover (Aplix Closure)
Have a look on Amazon
4 – 15 pounds5 months
GroViaNewborn All in One (Snap Closure)
Have a look on Amazon
5 to 12 pounds3 months
AlvaBabyNewborn Pocket Diapers (Snap Closure)
Have a look on Amazon
“Suitable for babies less than 12 pounds (a rough guide for reference only)”3 months
Thirsties Newborn All in One (Snap Closure)
Have a look on Amazon
5-14 pounds4.3 months

*Diaper covers must be paired with diaper inserts like prefolds, flats, or flour sack towels.

**Once again, these calculations assume a birth weight of 7.5 lbs; and a growth of  1.5 lbs per month, your baby may be born smaller, or larger, and may gain weight faster, or slower. The calculations also don’t take into account that many babies lose weight right after birth and that some babies are proportioned as such that they don’t fit well in some diapers even though there are still a few pounds before they reach the max. weight for that diaper.

How Long Do Newborn Diapers Last?

Again though, these are all averages and most babies won’t fall into this perfect average, it’s really just a ballpark number to help you decide if the investment is worth it for you.

How Much of An Investment are Newborn Diapers?

Speaking of investment, the next logical question is how much, or how many do you need to buy?

How many newborn diapers you’ll need will depend a lot on how often you want to wash them (you’ll need more to wash every 3 days than if you’re washing every day), and to some exent your baby’s unique schedule (some babies poop several times a day, while others only every few days).

I have a full article to help you evaluate how many cloth diapers you’ll need for your own situation here, but on average, you’ll want 12-14 newborn diapers per day for your newborn. So if you plan on washing daily, get 14, but if you’re washing every two days, get 24-28 cloth diapers.

Is Cloth Diapering a Newborn Worth it?

Cloth diapering a newborn can be a worthwhile investment for several reasons:

  1. Environmental benefits: By choosing cloth diapers, you’ll significantly reduce the number of disposable diapers that end up in landfills.
  2. Health benefits: Cloth diapers are made from natural materials, which can be gentler on your baby’s skin and may help prevent diaper rash.
  3. Financial benefits: While the initial cost of newborn cloth diapers may be higher than disposables, they can be more cost-effective in the long run, especially if you plan to use them for multiple children or resell them later.

However, deciding whether newborn cloth diapers are worth the investment depends on your personal priorities, budget, and local cloth diaper market. Factors to consider include:

  1. Your budget: If you’re working with a limited budget, it’s essential to weigh the upfront cost of newborn cloth diapers against the potential long-term savings. Buying used is a good option to spread your budget further. You can get some information to help you find good-quality used diapers, and learn how to sanitize them for your baby here.
  2. Plans for additional children: If you plan on having more children, investing in newborn cloth diapers may be more cost-effective, as you can reuse them for multiple babies.
  3. Local cloth diaper market: If you live in an area with a strong market for used cloth diapers, you may be able to recoup some of the initial investment by reselling your newborn cloth diapers when your baby outgrows them.
  4. Personal values: Some parents place a high priority on avoiding disposable diapers for environmental or health reasons, making the investment in newborn cloth diapers more appealing.

Ultimately, the decision to use newborn cloth diapers is a personal one that depends on your unique circumstances and priorities.

How To Cloth Diaper A Newborn

If you make the decision to jump into newborn cloth diapers, the daily grind of cloth diapering a newborn is relatively straightforward. Here are a few tips to ensure a successful experience:

  1. Carefully choose the type of newborn cloth diapers you use: I’ll go into the options you have to choose from shortly. Taking time to consider the style of diapers you use will help ensure you’re successful long-term, both from a meeting your needs standpoint, but also just because you’ll be more informed about why your diapers are the way they are.
  2. Have enough diapers on hand: Making sure you have 12-14 cloth diapers available per day, will make sure you’re not struggling to diaper your baby while trying to do laundry and meet all the other demands of your newborn and life as a parent.
  3. Establish a solid washing routine: Newborn cloth diapers need to be washed well to ensure cleanliness and prevent odors. For guidance on cleaning cloth diapers, visit our Cloth Diaper Washing 101 page here:
  4. Monitor your baby’s growth and adjust the diaper size accordingly: Keep an eye on your baby’s growth and move up to larger diapers when needed to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.

Choosing Newborn Cloth Diapers

While there aren’t as many newborn diapers on the market as one-size options, there are several brands of newborn cloth diapers available, each with its unique features and benefits.

I unfortnately didn’t stick to cloth diapering my daughter when she was a newborn, but after seven years working with cloth diaper parents and being a part of the cloth diaper comunity I was able to quickly come up with a list of the top five newborn cloth diapers on the market when my cousin, Ashley, graciously allowed me to use her newest addition as a tester.

Here are the popular newborn cloth diaper options we tested on my cousin’s baby, highlighting the pros and cons of each diaper:

Diaper BrandProsCons
Thirsties Natural Newborn All In OneVery absorbent, fits well on small newbornsBulkier than some other options
GroVia Newborn All In OnesIntuitive for hospital staff, good absorbency, great for itty bitty baby stageMay not be as absorbent as others for heavy wetters
BumGenius Littles 2.0 – Newborn All In OneGood for larger newborns, decent absorbencyMay not fit as well on smaller newborns, may not be as absorbent for heavy wetters
MotherEase Organic Newborn Wizard UnoSlim profile, great fit for small newborns, very absorbent, lasts a while
Lil’Joey Newborn DiapersUmbilical cord snap down, fits very small newborns, great for hospital useNurses may find it less intuitive, may not hold as much as other options
Newborn Prefolds and CoversGreat flexibility, trim fitRequires more hands-on adjustments

You’ll note this table mentions whether or not the diaper is good for heavy wetters. This is of note because most newborn babies aren’t heavy wetters! It just so happened that the baby these were tested on happened to be a rare heavy-wetter from birth.

As Ashley put it, “Then she got here and I discovered that cloth diapering a newborn is a bit different from cloth diapering a bigger kid.

“Tiny little thighs make for big leak problems. Itty bitty little bottoms do not fit well in one-size diapers. And if you happen to have a heavy-wetting newborn, then one-size absorbency is almost a necessity. By the time she was two weeks old, the little six-pound baby girl could out-pee her two-year-old brother.”


Newborn cloth diapering can be a rewarding experience for both you and your baby.

By considering factors like fit, absorbency, and your personal priorities, you can make an informed decision on whether cloth diapering your newborn is the right choice for your family.

Remember to consult our additional resources for more information on cloth diapering, including washing instructions and buying used cloth diapers.

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.